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Should Pin Thin Models be Banned from Appearing in Ads? Because One Just Was

By Meredith Carroll |

Drop Dead

Does this ad send the wrong message to young girls?

It appears as if the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority and I finally agree on something.

Earlier this week we disagreed on whether a Marc Jacobs fragrance ad with Dakota Fanning was too racy. I said no, they said yes, and promptly banned it. (For the record, they didn’t seem to care — or know — that I thought it was much ado about nothing. Strange, right?)

Now they’ve gone ahead banned another ad. This one from a clothing line called Drop Dead that features a frighteningly thin model. And for that, I applaud them.

Last time I checked this isn’t 1993 and Kate Moss is no longer posing as a skeleton addicted to heroin for Calvin Klein.

The model featured in the Drop Dead ads looks as if she is severely malnourished. Sadly malnourished. Tragically malnourished.

The ASA described her as “underweight and look[ing] anorexic,” according to the New York Daily News.

“In the bikini images her hip, rib and collar bones were highly visible. We also noted that in the bikini and denim shorts images, hollows in her thighs were noticeable and she had prominent thigh bones. We considered that in combination with the stretched out pose and heavy eye makeup, the model looked underweight in the pictures,” they said.

The ASA’s fear, and rightly so, I might add, is that the ads could “possibly warp young girls’ perceptions of a healthy body image.”

Drop Dead responded that the model was a “standard size 8.”

So if she’s a size 8, then I’m a size 2. Which I’m not, by the way. I’m so not a size 2. Just like their model is so not a size 8.

Earlier this year the ASA also pulled some photoshopped ads of Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington, citing an “honesty” issue.

In the case of the Drop Dead ads, the only argument I can see for allowing the ads to keep running is they appear to not be photoshopped, and therefore the model’s rib bones are sticking out in all of their ugly, unhealthy glory. Maybe if more young girls saw the ad, they’d be more likely to avoid eating disorders so as to not look as sickly thin as this model.

Is the ASA being overzealous (again), or are they finally spot-on in banning an ad?

Image: iheartdropdead.com

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About Meredith Carroll

meredith-carroll

Meredith Carroll

Meredith C. Carroll is an award-winning columnist and writer based in Aspen, Colorado. She can be found regularly on the Op-Ed page of The Denver Post. From 2005-2012 her other column, "Meredith Pro Tem" ran in several newspapers, as well as occasionally on The Huffington Post since 2009. Read more about her (or don’t, whatever) at her website. Read bio and latest posts → Read Meredith's latest posts →

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16 thoughts on “Should Pin Thin Models be Banned from Appearing in Ads? Because One Just Was

  1. goddess says:

    Dear goddess. We don’t NEED more nanny government. Let PEOPLE pressure make companies re think their advertising not more restrictions and legislation.

  2. goddess says:

    And won’t this be punitive toward naturally very thin women?

  3. Manjari says:

    She looks really scary. I don’t know why people are so outraged at obesity, but are ok with this. I think she looks gross. Extremes are never healthy.

  4. kiki says:

    British sizes are different than American sizes – a UK8 would be like a US4-ish. When I was a size US2-4, my ribs would have looked like that if I were posing arched back like she was (and probably sucking it in a bit, too). I was as healthy then as I was at a size US6-8 before getting pregnant – you can’t judge health by a picture in a magazine any more than you can for someone walking down the street, and I find it terribly rude to call another woman “gross” (comments) or “ugly” because she’s very thin.
    I’m with Goddess – we the consumer should be sending these companies a message if we find their advertising offensive, not relying on government censorship. If you don’t like a company’s advertising, don’t buy their product.

  5. Linda, t.o.o. says:

    I think she looks ill.

  6. Terry says:

    I don’t even think she could be a little girl’s size 8. Yuck.

  7. Kate says:

    I think she looks terrifying and I can’t believe anyone would really want to look like that. I mean, no man I’ve ever known would be attracted to a woman that skinny. I can understand that being built like a clothes hanger can make a woman good at modeling clothing, particularly on the runway, but looking like a bag of bones isn’t sexy in a swimsuit!

  8. Heather says:

    There is a big difference between thin and looking malnourished. Most naturally thin women do not have their rib and thigh bones VISIBLE. Collar bones are another thing all together; mine is prominent and I’m a size 10. And if you’re naturally thin, then yes, some poses might make you look thinner. But you should realize this and adjust your poses accordingly. Did you know that America’s Next Top Model actually eliminated one girl on a past season because they thought she had an eating disorder and they didn’t want to send the wrong message? Or that, on another season, they gave a naturally thin girl advice on how to pose so that she didn’t appear unhealthy, and when she didn’t listen they eliminated her? The issue here is not really whether or not the girl in the ad IS malnourished. It is that she APPEARS to be, and that that appearance sends the wrong message to young girls about how their bodies should look. MOST people cannot be that thin AND healthy at the same time. The girl in the ad may be an exception. That’s fine. But she could pose differently and not look sickly.

  9. Charity says:

    I agree with Goddess and Kiki. The model does look too thin, but it should be up to the consumers to boycott the company to make them pull the ad. It is not the role of the government.

  10. Val Payne says:

    It’s not the role of OUR (American) government to watchdog this stuff, but the Brits handle thier government responsibilities differently. It may seem wrong to us, but we view governmently differently than they do.

  11. Sanriobaby =^.^= says:

    Maybe they meant that the model was a CHILDREN’S size 8, lol! But in all seriousness, I don’t care what size she/they claim she is b/c this young woman simply looks underweight, malnurished, and downright unhealthy, not to mention, they say the camera adds 10lbs… I get that consumers should be the ones to decide on what they want to purchase, but images like this can be quite harmful to those w/body issues and advertisers as well as brands really need to consider just what type of image they want to put out to the public. Not only does this image send the wrong message to women and young girls, but it makes me quite worried for this model’s well being too. She looks like she’s in desparate need of a few decent meals :-(

  12. jess says:

    She not only looks sick, she probably is. Im sure there is an eating disorder, and possible drug use going on here. She is encouraged to look this way by the companies that hire her, photographers and such. All she is to these people is a $ sign. I feel bad for her. She will probably never concieve a child, and die young(statistics). She will always wonder if a man loves her for her, or her money. Poor little thing.

  13. Courtney says:

    I love the Drop Dead line! But she looks like she might just drop dead from modeling!

  14. wendy @ mama one to three says:

    frighteningly thin models will never DIScourage young girls from eating disorders. It is not the nature of the business; it is why advertising works. Young girls, teenagers and grown women will always believe the message we are sent over and over and over– I applaud them for banning these ads. As someone who has had eating disorders, I have a biased view. As a mom of two girls and a boy, I have another bias against advertising that harms our children’s self esteem. I would love to see these messages change.

  15. Lai-Lai says:

    If enough people refur to them as “lich queens” they’ll wade in popularity.

  16. icons says:

    Quite right! I think, what is it excellent idea.

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